Attending and observing the Clark County School District’s (CCSD) board meeting last night reminded me of an episode of The Office, “Dwight’s Fire Drill.” Upset that people didn’t pay attention to his power point on fire safety, Dwight purposefully starts a fire in order to test his coworkers on their emergency preparedness. Mayhem ensues.
He begins the segment with, “People learn in lots of different ways, but experience is the best teacher.”
Any parent has to ask what their children in CCSD are experiencing when recent test scores of 3rd to 8th grade students, taken and published by Smart Balance Assessments, show that only 3.9% of Black students and 7.4% of Hispanic students were proficient in Math. In English, 11.2% of Black students and 15.7% of Hispanic students were proficient. Overall, only 20 percent of Clark County students tested proficient in English Language Arts. In math, it was 11.5 percent.
These failing scores were not discussed by the Board. Instead, what the public witnessed after hours of public comments, was mayhem: the controversial removal of Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara, the tabling of the removal of equally-controversial President Cavazos, and bickering among the board members over a variety of issues, including masks.
Upon his removal and exit, Jara released this statement: “As Superintendent of the Clark County School District since 2018, my focus has never wavered from working every day to improve the well-being and academic success of our students. While some members of this board seek to run the operations of the district, micromanage and undermine the staff and me, I have been dedicated to protecting the staff from their overreach and interference. My focus on student well-being and academic improvement has not wavered. Unfortunately, a majority of the trustees did not share that vision and this community and our children will suffer the consequences.”
Three hours into the meeting, in a 4-3 vote, the Trustees voted to terminate Jara’s contract. Those in favor were Trustees Danielle Ford, Irene Cepeda, Lisa Guzman, and Board President Linda Cavazos.
Five hours later, trustees tabled a motion that would have stripped President Cavazos of her title. The three Trustees who voted for Jara were the same trustees who brought the motion to strip Cavazos of her title: Lola Brooks, Evelyn Garcia Morales and Katie Williams. Brooks rebuked her leadership in a stinging statement: “You have been unwilling to compromise, you circumvent processes and exclude key personnel in an effort to work in a silo shrouded in mystery,” Brooks said. “When you bring items forward, frequently no one knows where they came from. You bring items after a formal agenda review process has been completed outside of board policy.” Cavazos responded that Books’ “comments were full of untruths” and promised that she “will make comments in the future.”
Of note, there were many progressive activists in the crowd who supported Cavazos and many wore t-shirts emblazoned with messages such as #BastaJara (Stop Jara). Battle Born Progress, Make the Road NV, Mi Familia Vota, No Racism In Schools #1865 and Silver State Equality each had activists who spoke during public comments.
Trustee Williams was not present for the vote to strip Cavazos of her title. They launched into a heated argument before the vote when Cavazos asked Williams to wear a face mask. Upon her departure, Williams tweeted:
You guys don't realize.
The whole Executive staff just walked out because Jara stood up to the tyranny of Ford and Cavazos.
Whatever happens next won't be good for your kids.
That's what's coming. #CCSD
— Katie J. Williams (@realkatiejow) October 29, 2021
Perhaps that is indeed ‘what is coming.’ One of the agenda items that passed, and was supported by the progressive activists in attendance, was to teach “anti-racism” to children. Confronted with these abysmal test scores, it’s hard not to wonder if perhaps Math and English should be the district’s priority.
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